Florida residents are becoming more confident in customer-owned renewable energy. That’s according to a report released this week by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). The report revealed that electric generation capacity from renewable energy systems increased 35 percent statewide over the prior year, reaching 107,545 kilowatts (kW). The number of homeowners interconnected to the grid reached 11,626 by 2015—a 36 percent increase from 8,571 in 2014.
Florida’s PSC amended its rules back in 2008 to make it easier for residents to become interconnected with the grid. “We’ve helped accelerate renewable energy use without compromising service reliability,“ said PSC Chairman Julie Brown. “Our rules assist customers who want to use renewables, and who also want to be connected to the grid.”
Under those rules, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in Florida are required to offer an expedited interconnection agreement process for consumers so they can complete the solar installation process quickly and safely. Also, rural and municipal cooperatives are required by statute to provide a standardized interconnection agreement and net metering program for customer-owned renewable generation systems.
Generating electricity from wind turbines and even anaerobic digestion systems to produce methane for natural gas generation are becoming increasingly popular options in Florida, particularly for utility-scale electric generation, but solar panels remain the most popular renewable energy choice. Despite the advances Florida’s green energy efforts have a long way to go, especially after being rated one of the top ten US states blocking solar development by The Center of Biologic Diversity in April.
Floridians are attempting to improve the state’s solar policies. The debate about solar policy flared up last year when two measures were introduced, with both trying to make it on the 2016 ballot. One initiative, The Smart Solar Amendment, would allow homeowners to own or lease a solar system without impacting the electric rates of others. Those supporters argued that a separate, previously introduced proposal, which they dubbed “The Shady Solar Amendment,” would force Florida’s families to subsidize other people’s solar panels, out-of-state solar companies, and that it sacrifices consumer protection from fraud, over-billing or other abusive business practices.Tweet